Youth Shooting Benefits From New Partnership
The National Wild Turkey Federation and the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation have partnered to introduce youth to the shooting sports, hunting, conservation and the outdoors.
The partnership supports the NWTF’s new Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative, part of which aims to create 1.5 million new hunters. This initiative recognizes the inseparable connection between wildlife conservation and hunting. To ensure the continued strength of America’s conservation movement, it is critical to maintain a healthy population of hunters.
“For many, the first step to becoming a hunter is an introduction to the shooting sports. The partnership between the NWTF and SSSF is aimed at enhancing both organizations efforts,” said Doug Saunders, NWTF director of membership and marketing. “More shooters mean more hunters, both of which support the conservation of North America’s wildlife.”
The NWTF has introduced 250,000 youth to the shooting sports through JAKES Take Aim, a program made possible by a generous donation from Larry and Brenda Potterfield, owners of Midway USA. JAKES Take Aim provides each of the lower 48 states a trailer stocked with self-contained airgun shooting range and all the necessary gear to hold a shooting event. NWTF volunteers pull the trailers to JAKES and other youth events, offering unique opportunities for children to participate in shooting activities.
SSSF is a next step to shooting for youth who attend JAKES Take Aim events. As part of the partnership, the NWTF and SSSF will host joint events to introduce youth to the shooting sports and the outdoors. SSSF will also assist NWTF in development of new outreach events and it will integrate conservation and hunting messages in communications to SSSF members. The NWTF will participate in the SSSF National Team Championships held at the World Shooting Recreation Complex in Sparta, Ill.
“SSSF believes that our partnership with the NWTF is vital as both our organizations execute our common missions of youth development. Exposure to hunting and conservation is an important element of that development,” said Dan Hathaway, SSSF executive director. “We are pleased to join with NWTF in this effort and are excited to embark on joint projects with the very successful Jake's Take AIM program.”
The NWTF is embarking on its bold Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative, which will conserve and enhance 4 million acres of critical upland wildlife habitat to increase wild turkey populations, create 1.5 million new hunters and establish 500,000 additional acres of hunting access.
This new initiative will help tackle the challenges facing the sporting community: national turkey populations have declined 15 percent with much more dramatic declines in some historically important areas; 6,000 acres of upland wildlife habitat are lost every day; hunter numbers are not keeping pace with population growth, endangering the funding model for conservation in North America.
The partnership with SSSF will play a valuable role in the NWTF’s efforts to achieve these goals and strengthen the future of hunting and conservation.